LIEUTENANT HARRY ALBERT GRAY, MC
QUEEN'S OWN ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT
15TH JULY 1918 AGE 26
BURIED: AIRE COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE
Harry Gray was an organist, a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (F.R.C.O.) and of Trinity College London (F.T.C.L.). His father chose his inscription, using two interesting words: detested and atmosphere. Harry Gray "detested the whole atmosphere of war".
Gray, his mother, Elizabeth Sarah Gray, and his two siblings Elsie and Vivian, were born in Queensland, Australia. However, by 1901 they were all living in Hertford, England, where their father, also Harry Gray, a carpenter and joiner, had been born.
Gray originally joined the 28th Battalion London Regiment, the Artists Rifles, as a private. In March 1917 he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion the Queen's Own West Kent Regiment. That November he was awarded a Military Cross for:
"Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in maintaining direction as leader of an assaulting wave. When his company commander became a casualty he reorganised the company, which had lost over 60 per cent, and beat off several minor attacks. He remained with his men in a shallow trench when they were being heavily shelled, when he might have gone to headquarters. The good work done by the company was mainly due to his splendid example."
On 19 June 1918 Gray was promoted lieutenant and just under a month later he died of wounds in a casualty clearing station in Aire. It's not a bad military career for someone who "detested the whole atmosphere of war". Was it war he hated, or the prevailing mood that surrounded it? We're never going to know. But as his father said, "He did his duty". As did his other son.
Second Lieutenant Vivian Gray of the King's Liverpool Regiment was killed in action on the Somme on 18 August 1916. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.